12 December 2018

The Murder of Jack Morton - 1971

It is doubtful that killers Freddie Cisson and Henry Molka knew anything of the man they murdered in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 11, 1971, except that he had some money and they wanted it.

Jack Andrew Morton

Could they have known that 58-year old Jack A. Morton of Hillsborough Township was a vice-president at Bell Labs where he had been employed since 1936? That he was a gifted electrical engineer who first worked on microwave technology and radar which led to innovations that changed the course of World War II in the Pacific? 

Jack Morton's 1971 book Organizing for Innovation
That in 1948 he led the team that improved upon and produced the first useful transistors - an invention that has made our modern electronic world possible?

1 June 1960 Home News
That among his many honors was the coveted David Sarnoff Medal for "outstanding leadership and contributions to the development and understanding of solid state electron devices" - or that he held 24 US patents?

3 February 1948 Courier News
That he moved with his family to Hillsborough in 1944, purchasing the famed "Humble House" on Riverside Drive - and that he volunteered on the local Planning Board, Industry Board, and anything else that his busy schedule would allow? Or that he had just published a book - Organizing for Innovation - detailing the best practices and leadership required for success in the age of technology?

Jack Morton, William Shockley, and Addison White of Bell Labs -
the men who gave the world the transistor.
Fortune Magazine, 1953
All the two unemployed mechanics from Reaville knew was that he was an amiable man who bought them a few drinks at the Neshanic Inn where he had stopped on his way home from a business trip. The three sat together until closing time and were seen leaving together. Morton's car was reported on fire on Woodfern Rd. at 4:30 a.m. where firemen found Morton's lifeless, bruised, and badly burned body in the backseat. 

13 December 1971 Courier News
When Cisson and Molka were seen driving past the scene of the ongoing police investigation several times later that morning they were arrested, and later identified.

13 December 1971 Courier News 
Both killers were convicted in 1972 and sentenced to life imprisonment, where presumably they had plenty of time to contemplate the life they took.

1 comment:

  1. This sorry tale from 1971 came as a shock after all these years. I had just been wandering down memory lane and couldn't think of the name of the person that I met in December 1969 at a bar in New York.

    In the July I had emmigrated from England to join the Bell Canada-Northern Electric R & D labs in Ottawa, Canada to develope an electronics-based replacement for the ubiquitous but cumbersome key telephone system commonly used in North American businesses. Being new to telecommunications I took the opportunity to attend a telecommunications conference in the New York Hilton. On the evening of the first day I took a walk along the Avenue of the Americans ans several of the many streets crossing it, then finished off with a couple of drinks at one of the Hilton bars.

    I soon started chatting to an affable middle-aged gentleman who was also attending the conference. He listened patiently to my grumbles about the haphazard manner in which the project to which I had been assigned was being managed, before saying "You don't know who I am, do you!". "No" I responded. "I'm Jack Morton, Vice-President of Bell Labs. Murray Hill".

    Being new to the telecommunications industry, that didn't impress me. He went on to reassure me that his protege, Don Chisholm, who was head of the Bell-Northern labs. would sort out any problems that I might have.

    During a conference "Systems Engineering" Q & A session next day Jack expressed the opinion that "This is systems engineering", something that I could not disagree more with, as I reported during my debrief to BNR associates on my return from the conference.

    Jack was correct about Don Chisholm sorting out my problems. A reorganisation of the management team soon resolved them.